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In the market for a kadhai? Wondering which type should it be? Should it be a non-stick kadai or should it be a kadhai with lid? If it's a kadhai with lid, what kind of lid would be the best - glass lid or stainless steel lid?
A kadhai or Indian wok is a commonly used kitchen tool in Indian kitchens to sitr-fry, sauté or even deep fry delicacies.
In this article we will explore the most important considerations you should have before you buy a kadhai or wok for your kitchen.
With the variety of options available in the market, it's easy to get perplexed about which kind of stainless steel kadhai would be the best for your home. After all, when you go to buy a kadhai online or at your local store, you are faced with the following options :
1. Non stick kadhai - these are generally hard anodised aluminium, which basically means it has undergone certain chemical processes to make it more durable (leach less) and more non stick.
2. Hammered steel kadhai - these type of kadais are generally made of a kind of stainless steel that has been hammered in a traditional manner.
3. Stainless steel kadhai - these types of kadhais are made of stainless steel and are thinner than most other kadhais
4. Triply stainless steel kadhai - triply stainless steel is a three ply material that makes it better at conducting heat than normal kadhais
5. Cast iron kadhai - this kind of kadai is made of cast iron material and is often used after seasoning properly
6. Earthen kadhai - this kind of kadhai is made of clay and is used as a traditional cooking method
7. Carbon Steel kadhai - Carbon steel is a more popular choice compared to cast iron and is often used for stir-frying.
While you're shopping for kadai or indian woks, there might be a few decisions that you would need to make. These would mostly be on the following lines :
Deciding which material of of kadai is the best would depend on a number of personal factors. What food is going to be cooked in it, who is going to be handling it the most and how easy or difficult its going to be to maintain are just some of the basic considerations that you need to have. Based on the feedback of users, the cast iron kadai requires the most effort in cleaning and maintenance, followed by the earthen wok. Materials like earthen woks are rarely used for everyday cooking because they are prone to breakage and not as easy to maintain. Carbon steel woks season well after sustained usage and are better to handle compared to cast iron. Triply stainless steel kadhai is preferred for its durability and even heat distribution. While for many cooking enthusiasts, it's common to see different types of woks being used, there are many who have to consider space and budget before buying kitchenware.
Another decision to make while deciding which is the best kadai for you is to consider the use of a lid on the kadai. While it might seem like a straightforward answer, when you consider the storage space and re-using lids bought earlier, you might find that you don't need a lid for each piece of cookware that you buy.
Besides that, there is also the question of which lid is better for a kadhai - glass lid, or stainless steel lid. In theory, a glass lid helps you see the food cooking inside. But they often fog up during cooking, defeating the purpose of visibility. Glass lids often have plastic components like knobs that come directly in contact with the steam and heat of the food, presenting the risk of plastic fumes mixing with our food. When it comes to stainless steel lids, these are known to be more durable, residue free and easier to maintain. Stainless Steel, compared to glass is a poor conductor of heat but since glass lids often come with a steam vent, both these materials end up having the same impact on sealing heat.
There are a number of sizes available in kadhais. Which size of kadhai to buy is a factor of how big your family is, what is the quantity of food you generally make and how many other kadhais you already possess. Always remember that the sizes mentioned by cookware companies are of the inner diameter of the kadhai. These are generally mentioned in centimeters. But there is also a litre quantity mentioned usually, which can be helpful to gauge the capacity of the cookware in case you are buying it online. If you're buying a Stahl triply stainless steel kadhai, you have the sizing guide to help you make up your mind about the size that will be ideal for your family.
The type and make of the kadhai will affect the overall experience of cooking and possibly the taste of the food too. While the myriad options available can confuse and overwhelm anyone, its important not to follow trends blindly but instead consider your unique needs and situation before you make the purchase. For instance, you might see a chef on television use an earthen pot to cook, but it might not be practically possible in everyday life to cook in these pots. Consider if the build quality looks and feels good, if the kadhai will work on all heat sources, if it is dishwasher friendly, has features like stay cool handles and is versatile enough to cover most of your cooking styles.
1. Go for durable, not cheap - A good kadhai can last you for a long time. Choose the kadhai based on it's build and robustness, not price. As a rule of thumb, it's best not to buy a kadhai that has too many fixtures and components.
2. Look for ergonomics - How does the handle feel to hold? Does it fit snugly in your grip? Is the shape of the kadhai rounded well? Choose a kadhai that not just looks good but feels good too.
3. Versatility for the win - Ask if the kadhai can be used on multiple heat sources, enquire if it is dishwasher friendly. Buy a kadhai that is deep enough to deep fry yet flat enough for everyday sautéing.
4. Go for Made in India - Indian cookware manufacturers make products suited for Indian cooking. Companies like Stahl are breaking the quality barriers between international and Indian standards. Choose an Indian kadhai brand known for innovative practices.
5. Choose Non Reactive - Indian food is a mix of flavours, some of which is also sour. Many materials like cast iron and aluminium react to sour ingredients. Go for versatile materials like stainless steel which is not reactive.
Choosing the right kadhai should not be a confusing, overwhelming experience. Check out the bestsellers in Stahl's Artisan and Hybrid range before you make your choice.